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Aug. 7, 2013
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab

SRU Performing Arts Series brings New Christy Minstrels

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. –The sounds of the legendary New Christy Minstrels will fill Slippery Rock University’s University Union when SRU’s Performing Arts Series kicks off the 2013-14 season Sept. 6.

The renowned American folk group’s on-campus concert is at 7:30 p.m.

Founded in 1961, the group is still going strong some 52-years later with three original members and newcomers selected for their ability to mimic and retain the group’s original harmonies and humor.

With more than 20 albums to their credit, The New Christy Minstrels has sold millions of records. Their hits includes “Green Green,” “This Land is Your Land,” “Saturday Night,” “Today,” “Denver” and others.

Randy Sparks, who still serves as the minstrels’ leader, founded the group.

“Been there, done that! In the humorous words of Yogi Berra, ‘It's like deja vu all over again,’” Sparks said. "Life is wonderful; so much better than before. We've also been blessed with old age and the wisdom that arrives therewith, so we can better appreciate how special is our time on each and every stage. We love what we do."

Sparks said that when creating the group he was looking for the exuberance of The Kingston Trio and the choral harmony of The Norman Luboff Choir.

He took the group’s name from his reading about the struggles of American composer Stephen Foster. He said he had a “whole pile of good ditties that nobody wanted.” Foster solved his similar problem by leaning on the most popular musical ensemble of his era, Christy's Minstrels, which soon made The Christy Minstrels, a household name."

Sparks said he simply followed the 100-year-old example.

"When my mentor and friend Burl Ives died," Sparks said, "I suddenly had more time to devote to other forms of music, and I began writing for my old group again. A reunion concert became the logical next step, and the restored group is now in high gear.” He called the new group, “The New Christy Minstrels.”

“I'm pleased to point out that there have been two high-points in the story of The NCM: The early years were wonderfully successful; and the pace of the restored group in the past four years has been phenomenal.

Tickets to the SRU performance are $22 for adults; $20 for seniors; $18, youth; and $8 for SRU students. Call 724.738.2018 to order.

Other shows in the 2013-14 performing arts series are: “Simply Sinatra starring Steve Lippia,” at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 11; “The Broadway Boys,” a holiday concert, at 4 p.m., Dec. 8; a “John Denver Tribute starring Ted Vigil,” at 7:30 p.m., April 13; and “Dala,” featuring Amanda Walther and Sheila Carabine, at 4 p.m., May 4.

AVI, the campus contract food vendor, is offering a 6 p.m., pre-performance dinner in the University Union. The pre-set menu offers tossed salad with grilled fall vegetables; country fried chicken; roasted root vegetables; buttermilk mashed redskin potatoes; grilled green beans; and fresh rolls; with apple cobble parfaits for dessert. Cost is $20.95 per person with reservations, available at 724.738.4644, preferred by Sept. 2.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.